The Tickle Attack

I was at an Upward basketball game last Saturday morning to watch my youngest grandson play. At six years old, he and most of his buddies have as the most significant goal in the game to dribble the ball, and equal to that is the passion they have to guard the guy on the other team who has on the same wristband they do. Above all those things, the ultimate goal is to have fun and I must tell you they do.

The goals are achieved week after week and while the score may end up something like two to nothing, they have a blast playing the game. On this particular day, the game got a little draggy. As they came down the court to try to make another shot, the person guarding my grandson was doing so energetically and intensely. He was doing a great job. His arms were raised and he was flailing about making sure my grandson didn’t get the ball and if he did he wouldn’t be able to do anything with it.

There he stood before my grand boy with his arms raised and looking him in the eye. There were ten men on the court, but of course I was watching the one — my grandson. All of a sudden, he reached out with both hands and started to tickle the guy who was guarding him. You get the picture. He had both his arms raised and his hands were waving around and so my grandson just decided to tickle him, and it worked. The boy jerked both arms down and these two six year olds were standing there face to face, both of them giggling. The Tickle Attack in basketball was invented that Saturday morning.

Now, technically that’s a foul but they only had one referee trying to keep up with ten guys on the court and all the parents and grandparents screaming in the background. He really didn’t notice the attack or the impact of the attack, but I can tell you the guy wasn’t guarding my grandson as closely or as ferociously as he was before.

I do not believe that the Tickle Attack will become a part of high school, college, or NBA basketball, but it has possibilities. Well, at the least it has possibilities in the church world and we need to pay attention to what the Scripture says about joy being in our midst. There are very few people who cannot quote Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Many are familiar with Jesus’ instructions in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Overflowing joy is available to us. In the good times, absolutely. In the bad times, it still flows in our hearts. Regardless of what’s going on in your life, God has provided for us to have joy in the midst of it. I’m not talking about just silliness; I’m talking about confident joy that God is still in control and He still loves us.

You see, there is a joy that transcends all the miseries of life. It is an eternal joy. It is a God-given joy that the world cannot rob from us. So much of the joy for which we reach, and fail to receive, is based on stuff and acquiring more it. Things and activities and doing more of them, all of which come to naught except we get and we may go and in the process just be worn out. The Tickle Attack in church is a moment when God brings sweet peace and inspiration even when it seems impossible to have attained it. There is a joy that not only transcends the things of this world; it is somewhat transformable as when my grandson reached out and tickled the guy last Saturday morning.

We may come in contact with the intense grumpiness of this world and are able to present gladness, gently and caringly just to interject a touch of care and reality to a world that may have worn everybody down.

Back to that moment at the basketball game, things changed. Nobody was playing better basketball, but everything they were doing they did with a better spirit.

Joy is that way. The peace of God, the plan of God, the purpose of God, and having us here walking through whether it is the deep, dark valleys of life or climbing up the sunlit side of a mountain, the Lord comes and reminds us that wherever we are, He is and whatever we need, He is able to supply. So today when it seems things are a little draggy — a little down — look for the Lord to bring the Tickle Attack in your own life as He mentions the good things, the long lasting grace things that He’s put in our lives. Even as you’re facing a crisis and the challenges of life, let Him come and lift your spirit and rejoice.

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Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer